LOS ANGELES--The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today it will open a portion of the Los Angeles River corridor in Sepulveda Basin for recreational, non-motorized boating from Memorial Day weekend through mid-September. The site is one of two offering the public expanded access to the river; the other is at Elysian Valley and is a City of Los Angeles-sponsored program managed by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
Under the Corps' lease with MRCA, unguided, non-commercial paddlers may access and use the river at Sepulveda without a license or permit. Guided trips will be offered to the public for a fee by two qualified, non-profit organizations licensed by the Corps. Designated access points are located downstream of Burbank Boulevard and under the Balboa Boulevard bridge.
"Providing safe and healthy recreation experiences to meet the needs of current and future generations is part of the Corps' Recreation Strategic Plan," said Col. Kim Colloton, Los Angeles District commander. "We recognize the critical role we have in balancing our responsibilities among increasing interests in recreational opportunities along this great river and we're committed to partnering with the city, county and non-governmental agencies to combine effective flood damage reduction, habitat restoration and recreation in an urban area."
MRCA will manage the area for other passive recreation acitivities, such as walking, birdwatching, educational tours and fishing throughout the year, subject to environmental and safety restrictions. Alcohol, smoking, pets and littering are not allowed within the area. Members of the public are reminded to treat the area with respect; keep voices low and avoid damaging vegetation and disturbing wildlife. To avoid effects on the least Bell's vireo, the vegetated area along the river between Hayvenhurst Channel and Burbank Boulevard will be closed to pedestrian access during the nesting season. This area will be marked with signs to advise users of the restrictions.
"We are excited to be the Army Corps' partner once again in making the recreational resources of the Los Angeles River available to the public," said Fernando Gomez, chief ranger of MRCA. "We want everyone to have a safe and fun experience this summer and learn what the river has to offer."
For more information about the Los Angeles River Recreation Zone in both the Sepulveda Basin and the Elysian Valley visit http://www.lariverrecreation.org
. Operating hours, safety rules and a map and trail guide are available on the website.
The Los Angeles Conservation Corps will operate its guided "Paddle the LA River" program Monday through Saturday. Details of their program can be found at http://www.paddlethelariver.org
. Electric Lodge/LA River Expeditions will offer guided trips Fridays and Sundays.
The public should be aware that the river and basin are part of a flood risk management system and are subject to sudden increases in water levels and flow velocities, which can be dangerous to users. The river corridor will be closed to public access during hazardous conditions and during operation and maintenance activities by the Corps.
Hosting more than 370 million visits annually to 422 lakes and river projects, the Corps of Engineers is the largest federal provider of outdoor and water-based recreation in the nation. The Los Angeles River at Sepulveda Dam sees more than seven million visitors a year. Sepulveda Basin is rich in recreational opportunities; it offers golf courses, baseball fields, soccer fields, a skate park, cricket fields, archery range, model airplane field, a velodrome (bicycle track), community gardens and a wildlife nature area with walking paths.
MRCA owns and manages nearly 60,000 acreas of public lands and parks and provided ranger services for the intial pilot program for feasibilitry of non-motorized boating within the Sepulveda Basin in 2011. It also managed usage and regulated safety in the pilot program for the city's Los Angeles River Recreation Zone within the Elysian Valley portion of the river in 2013. MRCA has swift water certified teams prepared for any emergency. After the 2014 boating season, MRCA will issue permits to guided tour operators for the recreation zone at Sepulveda.
Coming on the heels of National Safe Boating Week, May 17-23, the opening of the recreational boating program provides an opportunity to remind boaters to be safe in and around water and to always wear a life jacket.